"Sean, it's amazing how many friends and family say they plan to make our wedding! Lot's willing to fly in. Some even canceled Labor Day weekend plans."
"Sounds like we'll fill that banquet hall after all."
"I think they just want to gel at Hotel del. I’m thankful that your parents never noticed my home for sale. We were spared the ‘living together’ sermon."
"I guess they never knew where you lived. Rachel, I'm just relieved the closing on your home went so smoothly, so we can pay for this extravaganza."
"I can't believe it's just around the corner. Yet I can't wait another day!"
Sean gently wraps his arms around his fine fiancée, glowing with delight."
43 FEAR HERE
When Alex arrives at Logan's house to play, his mother welcomes him with open arms, just as she had before knowing of their same-sex attraction. Logan runs to greet him as well, but restrains his affections. After playing for a while, they realize Logan's mother hasn't been checking up on them. They start fun wrestling, soon realizing how much they missed being passionate with each other. Soon Alex lays on top of Logan, looking for a kiss. Logan's face brightens like the sun. Suddenly both back off. Alex gets off Logan, whispering, "You forced yourself on Jeff."
"Yeah, I can't get that off my mind either. At the time I actually didn't care. Now I can't take it back."
"I feel safe with you Logan, but then I get second thoughts. I want to love you. Then I get scared."
"Me too. I don't trust myself."
44 MORE GORE
Sean, I felt so good, like everything's normal. But now I feel depressed, like life stinks again."
"Jeff, I hear you. You wish the hurt ends forever, but, like your mom says, the healing goes slow. I'm thankful when you have a reprieve from the agony. More and more great days will come."
"I wish I could be so confident."
"Think of our showers together. Each time you become more like yourself again."
"That's true. I don't think I'd survive without them. I had a weird dream of your dad."
"Yeah, we were both naked."
"That is weird!"
"Yeah, and I can’t get Logan off my mind. What eats me is the thought of a good friend doing something so horrible."
"Would it have been better to be molested by a jerk?"
"No!!! I'm like, how can this be."
"We all can get so selfish that we don't care what we do."
"Is it selfish of me to hate Logan?"
"No.... Well, yes. In your hate, you could do something stupid. Try to change your hate of Logan into hate of what he did."
"I don't want to."
"That's not surprising. Remember me telling you that my dad kept loving me when I kept rebelling?"
"He said he had to pray every day to find strength to do that."
"Hate eventually haunts a person. Love conquers hate."
"So you want me to love Logan!"
"You did when we brought him to tell his parents what he had done to you."
"Yeah, I did, but that was before hating him."
"Are you willing to pray for Logan?"
"One day you will be."
45 FACE DISGRACE
"Sean, I'm so glad I can talk to you about stuff."
"I'm glad we respect each other, Alex."
"Guilt feelings keep nagging me still."
"About Logan, right?"
"Have you talked about everything?"
"I think so. Oh! Uh..."
"Spit it out."
"It really doesn't have anything to do with it."
"Tell me anyway."
Trying to be brave, "Uh, um, I couldn't do it either."
"You go limp too?"
"No, uh, I don't reach. Don't tell anyone!"
"OK. Of course, my lips are zipped."
"So how did Logan respond back then?"
"I could tell he was disappointed but he showered me with encouragement."
"And how did you respond when he went limp."
"Disappointment. All disappointment. I feel horrible. I treated him horrible."
"So you didn't respond with the same love Logan lavished on you."
"Exactly! And if I had, he probably wouldn't have tried to rape Jeff. And now everything's frigg'n freaky."
Have you said this to Logan?"
"Do it and get specific about how you treated him horribly."
"Yeah! I got mad at him for lying to Jeff about it. Then I lied to Jeff too."
"Oh! Sounds like you're getting to the guts of your guilt. The truth will set you free."
"I don't get that, but I'm feeling a lot better already."
Jeff gets home, so Alex breathes a sigh of relief that Jeff didn't overhear him. But Sean suggests, "Telling him will help too."
Jeff jumps in, "Tell who what?"
Sean merely adds, "Alex knows."
Alex smiles, "Yeah, thanks for your help Sean."
"Alex, you are most welcome."
"Jeff, let's play out back."
As they go, "You know, I saw Jamie at the park. Jeff, I like say hi to him, but he acts like I'm not even there!"
"He must think he'll get branded 'gay' if seen with me."
"So how's Logan doing?"
"That's the first time you asked. He always asks about you."
"Trying to make me feel guilty?"
"Of course not. Logan still stays in the house all the time but we have a lot of fun when I come over.... I think Sean's right."
"What did he say?"
"To tell you."
"Tell me what?"
"My dick's to short to do it."
"I thought so."
"Yeah, you sounded just like Logan when he lied. Don't worry, it grows everyday."
"I wish I could tell!"
Jeff hugs him, "Thanks for 'fessin up."
"Are you inviting Fred and Jamie over again?"
"Fred's tied tightly to Cindy now."
"That's so cool! Let's just call Jamie then."
"Now? You're not mad at him anymore?"
"Yeah, I'll get over it. I love the way he looks at me when he isn't afraid of what people will think. Just don't tell him that I know he has the hots for me. That would ruin everything."
"I hear you."
46 BACK ON TRACK
Jeff doesn't take Sean's bathing suit to Black's Beach, but finds public nudity uncomfortable yet. When Maria sees that Jeff's not about to take his clothes off, she takes him to the blanket inside Roberto's privacy fence. "Lay down, big man."
Jeff timidly complies. Maria removes his sneakers, then his socks. She smells his feet. "I'm really glad you showered this morning."
Jeff smiles. She lovingly massages his feet, his ankles, and up his legs, being attentive to Jeff's every reaction. "I'll pull down your shorts to finish your thighs." Maria sits on his stomach, reaching under his shirt to hold his chest. "Do I remove your underwear next, or your shirt?"
"Just lay on my chest and kiss me senseless."
Big smiles fill their faces as she passionately proceeds. Ten minutes later Maria sits up, grabbing his underwear. Jeff shivers, so she lets go.
"OK, my most magnificent Maria, I'm ready to show some skin." Jeff lifts his butt to help her along.
"How could you hide this tremendous treasure? Now sit up, most handsome one, so I can remove your shirt."
Jeff does, then jumps to his feet, "I need to put sunscreen on you before you burn."
Maria happily lays down, thinking, "The Jeff I know returns to life."
After protecting each other from UV rays, Jeff jumps up, pounding his chest, shouting like Tarzan. Everyone watches jubilantly. Maria jumps up, "Tarzan, me Jane!"
Jeff takes her hand, swinging her gallantly to the sea.
47 BEND TO MEND
"Alex, I don't think I can go through with this."
"Don't worry, Jeff. Logan doesn't know you're coming over. You can back out."
"Yeah, I'll catch you later."
"See ya, Jeff."
"Wait. I have this sense that I really really need to do this."
Alex hugs Jeff, "This aint easy, is it."
"No, but I know I need to go."
When they arrive Logan can't believe his eyes, which light up for a second. Then gloom fills his face.
Cautiously, "Hi Logan."
Timidly, "Hi Jeff."
Jeff takes a deep breathe, "I don't wanna hate you anymore."
"I'm sorry I screwed up your love life."
"Yeah, that happened too."
"Jeff, I hate that I lied to you. Somehow I ended up hating you instead. Then it seemed so easy to attack you. I convinced myself that it would be a good thing to do. I think you know how sorry I am."
Jeff's heart melts, "Yeah. I forgive you Logan. We need to quit hating so we can get on with healing. Let's hug."
48 BOND 'N BEYOND
Summer slips by quickly. Rachael gets home from work Friday, glowing ear to ear. Sean radiantly reaches for her hand, "May I have your hand in matrimony?"
"Oh Sean! Tomorrow's the day! Everything feels so right. Some things will go wrong for sure. But I feel such peace, such joy. What a bond, to my blonde! I'll just ride the wave, with you by my side, to the grave, and beyond.
As they embrace, "What about my touch of green?"
"Looks good on a string bean."
"Oh, you're mean, my magnificent queen!"
49 BEST OF ALL THE REST
Jeff picks up the microphone, "Hello everyone. Please be seated, for our reception dinner. Mr. and Mrs. Jouxneau ask that you find your seat.... Thank you. Sean asked me to start this celebration with prayer. I'm so honored to do so. Let's bow our heads for a moment to recognize the artist of the stunning landscape all around us, indeed the artist of this great universe. Dear God, you are so good, I mean, like super wonderful. You've answered my most heartfelt prayer, my most important prayer for as long as I can remember. I don't know why you took such a long time, but you sure know how to come through in a big, big way. So thank you! Thank you! Thank you! I can't say it enough. Thank you for the best father a guy could ever have. I'm sure everyone here has loads to be thankful for too as they shoot up their prayers to you who deserves all the praise, all the honor, all the glory. We ask you to bless this food--from the smell of it, I think you already have! And please chill with us, joining this happy celebration. And we all joyfully say ... Amen!!!"
Continuing without notes, "Please take your glass of champagne." Jeff takes a whiff of his. "I doubt that yours is as potent as mine, but I'm sure you can live with it. I showed up at my first baseball practice, really wondering what kind of coach I got stuck with--some newbie. When I set eyes on him I thought he was a teammate, but it couldn't be--he got out of the driver's seat. I tell you, he was as green as they get. It even shows in his hair. You should of seen Ricky rake him over." Laughing, "Ricky could beat the tar out of Sean, and he knew it. Then there's Fred, the veteran terror of the town. He bribed his way into this reception hall. Stand up, Fred! ... OK, don't get all sweet on us now.... Fred just walked all over Sean. The things he said, I cannot repeat to your virgin ears. Soon..." Getting choked up, "OK! ... Soon we started to realize how deeply he respected each one of us. One by one, each of us formed a deep respect for him. When Fred somehow turned around, the greatest force against Sean got turned into the best teammate. So I lied--Fred actually received the first invitation for this most awesome event. But moving on, I must humbly take full credit for bringing Sean and my mother together."
Sean yells out, "He's absolutely right!"
"But it's difficult for me to admit to my devious conniving. So I'll just get on with this toast ... to Rachel and Sean Jouxneau, the most precious Mom and Dad on God's green earth! Hey! Hey!"
50 AUTHOR MYRRH
Life's short, so get in the game. Dare to love and be loved.
Things don't work out quickly all the time. So pray with patience. Pray with all your heart.